Tag Archives: career switcher

5 Reasons to Consider an MBA Degree

Before you start the process of preparing to apply for an MBA, take a critical look at your reasons for pursuing an MBA and make sure it’s the right decision for you.

Every spring, many prospective MBA applicants start seriously considering whether this is the year to apply for business school. Before deciding what type of program you will attend, selecting your school, and determining your application strategy, you need to make the crucial decision of whether an MBA is the right next step for your life and career. Think about the reasons why you want an MBA, and what your alternatives are.

Reasons for Pursuing an MBA

Are you seeking an MBA for career advancement, personal development, or a career switch? While your MBA could be a transformational experience changing everything about your life, it’s more typically a tool to polish existing skills, build your network or expose you to new industries.

1. You’ve learned as much as you can in your current role and crave something more. If you find yourself stagnating in your present role or that you’ve plateaued in your job and there’s no room for upward mobility, an MBA can help you navigate and leverage your next career step. The business school experience will show you how to integrate your skills, passions and goals against the backdrop of current global market conditions.

2. You have a new professional goal. Ask yourself what you plan to accomplish after your MBA. If you know what your long-term goal is, that’s a great way to start. What do you need to know to accomplish that goal? How does your resume need to look? What skills do you need to build? And who do you need to know? Think about the aspects of that future that will be developed through your MBA and your short-term post MBA career.

If you are not someone with a clear long-term goal, critically consider what you think the MBA will do for you. Business school offers clear skill building in teamwork, leadership and practical skills like accounting and finance. There is also a strong professional network you will build with classmates and alumni.

3. You need the degree to move up the ladder. If you are seeking advancement in a career where an MBA is valued, it may be an important next step. If you are simply looking for a larger salary or a change of pace, make sure that an MBA is the right professional degree for you to pursue. Applying for business school is an expensive and time consuming activity, and that’s before you even start school! Dedication and passion for the path you are embarking upon are crucial.

4. You’re missing key skills that an MBA program can provide. Business school provides a safe space to experiment and hone those skills in a variety of situations. For applicants with strong technical expertise but who are light on general management skills or anyone looking to bridge the gap between the liberal arts and business, an MBA will catapult you to the next level.

5. You want to significantly expand your professional network. Your alumni network helps you stay connected to the university and to countless professional opportunities beyond graduation. While the quality of the education at the most elite programs is guaranteed across the board, when you’re spending two years of your life and paying more than $100K, keep in mind the network of contacts you build during your MBA experience truly is priceless.

Having a Plan B

While considering your reasons for pursuing an MBA, it will be useful to consider a common b-school interview question: “What will you do if you are not admitted this year?”

Sometimes the answer to the “Plan B” question can be revealing. If you think that you would give up your pursuit of an MBA and either return to a prior career path or pursue a completely different goal, it may not be time for you to dedicate this spring and summer to applying to MBA programs.

When you consider plan B and you find yourself answering that you will spend the year preparing to reapply and continuing to develop yourself for your future career, you are likely a dedicated prospective MBA. If you were not admitted, you might find yourself thinking that you would volunteer more, and build your knowledge and skill set in your chosen career path.

Once you have decided to pursue an MBA, the next steps are to consider your school options, develop your strategy and refine your goals as you plan for beginning your essays in a few months.

Photo credit: Eric at Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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5 Signs You’re Ready to Apply to an MBA Program

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Many prospective business school students confront whether now is the right time to get an MBA, particularly when they become bored or frustrated …

ready for an MBA

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

Many prospective business school students confront whether now is the right time to get an MBA, particularly when they become bored or frustrated with their current professional trajectory. But how do you know whether you’re really ready to tackle the intense demands of a full-time MBA program?

There’s often a tendency to rush into it, but the decision to pursue an MBA requires serious thought. Before you start preparing to apply, take a critical look at your reasons for pursuing the degree and make sure it’s the right decision for you.

Motivations for earning an MBA vary by person, but prospective students who decide to embark on the journey should first make sure they’ve identified gaps in their professional development, have clear career goals and feel ready to contribute to the MBA experience.

Review these five signs to determine whether you’re ready to apply to business school.

1. You’ve maxed out professional development: Do you feel like your current position isn’t allowing you to maximize your skills or that your supervisors don’t value your contributions?

If you find yourself stagnating in your present role or that you’ve plateaued in your job and there’s no room for upward mobility, an MBA can help you navigate and leverage your next career step. The business school experience will show you how to integrate your skills, passions and goals against the backdrop of current global market conditions.

2. You want pursue a new professional goal: If you’re looking for the fast track to gain skills and build a network to launch your career in a new direction, an MBA will definitely expand your options.

Once you’re in business school, you have the opportunity to see how you fit in that new industry through coursework, student groups, internships or networking with alumni. Self-reflection and exploration are key components of the MBA experience, giving students a chance to sample various fields and functions without making any firm commitments.

3. You need an MBA to move ahead in your current job: Unlike career switchers, career enhancers can use the MBA as a way to move up the proverbial ladder in their current company or industry.

Earning an MBA can reassure supervisors who seem reluctant about promoting you because of your age or limited years of work experience. It shows that you’re a go-getter who will do whatever it takes to continue growing and developing personally and professionally.

In some industries – such as finance, marketing, IT or international business – employers often require an MBA for an individual to advance to certain upper management positions.

4. You want to gain specific skills that are taught in business school: In an MBA program, you’ll learn how to think strategically, analyze problems and broaden your leadership skills.

Business school provides a safe space to experiment and hone those skills in a variety of situations. For applicants with strong technical expertise but who are light on general management skills or anyone looking to bridge the gap between the liberal arts and business, an MBA will catapult you to the next level.

5. You feel you have a lot to contribute to a diverse MBA class: If you’ve been in the job for a few years, tackled multiple real-world business problems and been tested and challenged professionally and personally, you’re already equipped to bring a unique and valuable perspective to an MBA class of equally driven and talented peers.

When students from diverse backgrounds and industries come together and share their experiences and skills, all participants learn valuable lessons they would have never otherwise encountered. Remember, the admissions team wants to see how much you’ll contribute to the class in addition to finding out what you’ll gain from the MBA.

As we’ve seen countless times, business school enables students to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities that can help organizations launch new products, improve the lives of consumers and help society as a whole. But only you can determine when the time is right to take that next step.

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Alumni Call MBA Experience Rewarding, Expands Career Possibilities

More than half of graduate business school alumni are currently employed in an industry or job function they did not have experience in prior to entering business school, according to a report released today by …

MBA alumni

More than half of graduate business school alumni are currently employed in an industry or job function they did not have experience in prior to entering business school, according to a report released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a nonprofit organization of leading graduate business schools.

Findings from the Council’s 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey show that 2 in 5 (39%) alumni currently work in an industry they hadn’t considered prior to starting business school; they learned of the opportunity while enrolled in a graduate business program, with 88% sharing that they are satisfied with their job and employer.

“Year after year our research has shown that a graduate management education offers significant personal, professional and financial rewards. We’re now seeing strong evidence of how valuable the degree is with regard to changing careers,” said Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC.

“Given the current pace of change in the economy and the workplace, candidates can be confident in the knowledge that a graduate management education can prepare them with the skills and flexibility they need to be in a better position to pivot and adapt their careers when opportunities present themselves and industries are disrupted.”

The findings of the 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report detail the education and career outcomes of nearly 15,000 graduate business alumni representing 1,100 graduate business programs located around the world. The report highlights that the value proposition of a graduate business degree is high regardless of graduation year or program type.

Key Findings

Compensation for Business School Graduates

Nearly all (95%) survey respondents rate their graduate management education a good to outstanding value. On average, the total compensation package for graduate business school alumni can range from a median of US$75,513 for an entry-level position upward to a median of US$440,122 in total compensation for a C-suite executive.

Business school alumni earn 76% of their total compensation in base salary, on average. As they advance up the career ladder, a greater proportion of their compensation comes from non-salary sources such as bonuses.

 Employment Profile

Ninety-two percent of survey respondents are currently employed — 8 in 10 overall (81%) worldwide are employed with a company and 11% are self-employed entrepreneurs. Globally, the products and services (27%), technology (14%), and finance and accounting (11%) sectors employ the greatest proportion of alumni represented in this survey.

Though alumni work across the spectrum of industries, their degree type often differentiates career paths. MBA alumni are more likely to work in technology, nonprofit and government, manufacturing, health care, energy, and utilities, compared with alumni holding non-MBA master’s degrees. Business master’s alumni, for example, are more likely to be found employed in finance, accounting and consulting industries.

As for job functions, MBA alumni are more likely to hold positions in marketing, sales, operations, logistics, and general management. Alumni of non-MBA business master’s degrees are more likely to work in finance, accounting, and human resource positions.

In total, more than 4 in 5 alumni agree their education prepared them for leadership positions (86%), prepared them for their chosen career (85%), and increased their earnings power (82%).

The Entrepreneur

Most alumni delay their entrepreneurial activities until after graduation. In fact, 2 in 3 alumni entrepreneurs began their business after graduation following employment at another company.

One in 8 alumni entrepreneurs sought venture capital and 72% of these individuals received such funding. Half of the alumni entrepreneurs say their university provided faculty guidance, experts from the community, and mentors to guide their entrepreneurial activities.

Most Valued Skills in the Workplace

Alumni rank interpersonal skills as most important in the workplace, regardless of job level or function. Among the top five talents important to their job, the ones related to “people” skills or emotional intelligence are highly ranked by alumni, with interpersonal skills (e.g., active listening, persuasion and negotiation, time management) topping the list.

Other skills predominate as one moves up the corporate ladder. Alumni in higher-level positions are more likely to indicate that managing human capital, strategy and innovation, and the decision-making process are more important to their current job compared with alumni in lower-level positions.

Alumni Recommendations

Most alumni are very likely to recommend their graduate business program to colleagues and friends. The overall Net Promoter Score — a customer loyalty metric — that business schools receive from their alumni is 47, which is greater than scores received in many sectors of the economy.

Net Promoter Scores are positive for all graduate business programs, although differences by program type range from 22 for Master in Management programs to 62 for full-time two-year MBA programs. If offered the choice, more than 9 in 10 (92%) alumni would have pursued their graduate management education knowing what they know now.

“Graduate business programs expose students to a wide range of opportunities and provide alumni with access to a variety of career outcomes,” said Chowfla. “It’s clear from the results that alumni feel their education helped prepare them for leadership positions, as well as enhanced their earnings potential and guided their career development. This positivity is reflected in their recommendation of a graduate management education to others.”

You may also be interested in:

Evaluate MBA Career Services When Selecting Possible B-Schools
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Using an MBA to Change Careers

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Using an MBA to Change Careers

These days, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who stays with one company or even one industry throughout his or her entire professional life. If you’re looking for the fast track to gain the …

These days, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who stays with one company or even one industry throughout his or her entire professional life. If you’re looking for the fast track to gain the skills and network to launch your career in a new direction, a popular way to do so is through an MBA program. In fact, by some estimates, two-thirds or more of graduating MBAs use the degree as a means of switching careers.

pexels-photo-83054

While students often set their sights on a job in finance or consulting, the skills typically strengthened during business school—leadership, intellectual creativity, analysis and critical thinking, cross-cultural awareness, communication, even greater IT mastery—will serve you well as you find your way toward your ultimate career goal.

So-called career switchers look upon the degree as a way to expand international job opportunities, develop the right connections for future employment, and establish the potential for long-term income and financial stability. I personally went to business school because I wanted to transition from finance to marketing.  While I did achieve this, I also found that the MBA experience in and of itself opened up my mind to an array of new possibilities. I ended up in a career with a marketing focus, but it unfolded in a way I never would have considered pre-MBA.

Since application season is in full swing, I have a few words of advice for those applying to an MBA program now or in the near future. Business school demands a huge investment of your time, energy and finances, so make an airtight case to the admissions committee for why you want to go into this new field. Show that you know what the industry requires, the challenges you expect to face, and convey all previous experiences that demonstrate you have the transferable skills to make this switch.

One former SBC client, Sheila, worked as a real estate attorney focused on commercial transactions when she decided that she found working with the financial details more interesting than the legal intricacies. She passed the first level of the Certified Financial Analyst exam, but had a very limited understanding of other areas of business management. Though the CFA program is a tremendous resource, she had enough experience to know that she needed to develop the skills best provided by earning an MBA. Going to business school became the next logical step toward Sheila’s objective of working in real estate banking at a Wall Street firm.

If your undergraduate degree or work experience falls into the non-traditional category, make sure you clearly convey your long-term career goals within your application and essays, and explain in detail how you arrived at the conclusion that an MBA would help you further your professional aspirations. Know that the elite business schools welcome applicants from the humanities, but, unlike their business major peers, these candidates will need to prove to the admissions committee that their relatively minimal academic experience in quantitative subjects won’t be a hindrance once they hit those core courses.

Your GMAT or GRE score is the first and most obvious piece of the puzzle that indicates your ability to handle MBA-level course work, so allow yourself plenty of time to study for the exam. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT, the average amount of study needed to achieve a score between 600 and 690 is 92 hours, and getting above that brass ring score of 700 is 102 hours. If you find your score has settled at the lower end of the spectrum, find other ways to demonstrate your quantitative competence, such as taking a college-level calculus class with a score of a B-plus or better.

Once you’re in b-school, opportunities abound to try out that new industry through coursework, student groups, internships, or networking with alumni. Self-reflection and exploration are key components of the MBA experience, giving students a chance to sample various fields and functions without making any firm commitments.

Embarking on a new career path with a freshly-minted MBA tucked under your arm isn’t just about new knowledge acquired in the classroom. It’s about leveraging your existing experience with enhanced skills, and even more so, it’s about making the most of personal relationships. All of the people, classes, activities, etc. in an MBA program catapult you into a whole new sphere, and you may come out with completely new ideas which help facilitate career change in ways you would not have thought of before. For me, this is the best part and the real opportunity business school provides.

The article originally appeared as a guest post for our partners at MBA Insight

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4 Times Pursuing an MBA Makes Total Sense

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com For many people, business school is the ideal platform to continue their professional and personal development and achieve their career goals. Take a look at …

reasons to get an MBA

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

For many people, business school is the ideal platform to continue their professional and personal development and achieve their career goals. Take a look at these common motivating factors to determine whether you, too, should head back to the classroom for an MBA.

1. You want to switch careers. By some estimates, at least two-thirds of MBA applicants look to business school as a surefire way to launch their career in a new direction.

One past client, Sheila, worked as a real estate attorney focused on commercial transactions when she decided that she found working with the financial details of transactions more interesting than the legal intricacies. She passed the first level of the Certified Financial Analyst exam and had a great deal of financial knowledge, but a very limited understanding of other areas of business management.

Sheila had come to a point in her career where she knew what she wanted to work on for the rest of her professional life. Though the CFA program is a tremendous resource, she had enough experience to know that she needed to develop the skills best provided by earning an MBA. Going to business school became the next logical step toward her objective of working in real estate banking at a Wall Street firm.

2. Your target company demands it. If your sights are set on working for companies such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., McKinsey & Co. or Boston Consulting Group, know that having the MBA credential is typically an unspoken requirement. These top banking and consulting firms mandate MBA degrees for upper management positions.

While they hire employees with bachelor’s degrees for entry-level positions, the understanding is that associates will work for a few years and then head to business school to earn the degree that will open doors to senior management and partner positions.

Even if smaller firms don’t require the MBA outright, employees find they advance up the ladder much faster with the graduate management degree.

3. You hit a ceiling. When Constance first came to us, she had already spent six years working in consulting and banking, but in her current role her contributions were narrowly focused on one piece of the client’s puzzle. To broaden her role and shift to strategic consulting for financial institutions, Constance needed an MBA.

She knew her experience with strategy and working for banks would enable her to participate in the classroom, but MBA courses in financial accounting, financial engineering and risk management would expand her knowledge and give her the full toolkit for landing a position as an associate at a top-tier consulting firm in the U.S. or Europe.

Constance’s long-term goal involved eventually taking a partner role at a smaller, niche consulting firm. Business school was a crucial next step for transition.

4. You need new skills. Our former client Peter’s undergraduate degree was in art history from a small liberal arts college. While most of his classmates had pursued Ph.Ds for a career in academia, he had always wanted to find a way to combine his creative interests within a team-based environment.

Peter began his career in an entry-level position at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the arts education group. Within a few years he was on a strong trajectory within MoMA, but Peter really wanted to focus on entrepreneurial activity within the arts world. He decided he needed an MBA to gain the hard financial and management skills required to meet that goal.

As you can see, every individual’s needs and motivations are different. When you map out your medium- and long-term professional goals, think about what gaps you have and whether an MBA could be that transformational experience that changes your career trajectory forever.

Image credit: Flickr user Stefan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Decide Whether to Pursue a Pre-MBA Internship

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com The summer before business school is traditionally a blissful time to just hang out, travel, sleep in and generally savor the brief respite between …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

The summer before business school is traditionally a blissful time to just hang out, travel, sleep in and generally savor the brief respite between your turbocharged job and the whirlwind that awaits once you set foot on campus.

While the vast majority of incoming MBA students still do spend the months leading up to school indulging in their favorite pastimes, the pre-MBA internship has become a growing trend among the recently admitted. Let’s take a look at what it is, who it’s for and why you should think about pursuing one – maybe.

What Is a Pre-MBA Internship?

A summer internship is the hallmark of the two-year MBA program, but a pre-MBA internship is one that is specifically targeted to professionals who will be heading to business school in the fall for a full-time program. Whether you’re interested in banking, private equity, venture capital, consulting, marketing, or nonprofits, there’s probably already a niche program with this group in mind.

These internships or “camps,” as they’re sometimes called, are short, usually ranging in duration from four to six weeks. Many companies have created intensive pre-MBA programs lasting no more than a few days.

If you know the industry you would like to pursue, begin tapping your fellow future students and the alumni network for leads, and check to see if the companies on your career target list offer these opportunities. Above all else, make sure the internship environment provides you with a chance to learn, not make coffee runs.

Who is Best Suited for a Pre-MBA Internship?

This type of internship is ideal for career switchers, who make up 38 percent of incoming students, according to the latest Prospective Students Survey Report published by the Graduate Management Admission Council. If you are switching fields, this short stint before your first year is like a test drive of a new area of interest and effectively gives you two summers to do an internship.

Use the experience to try out an industry or company and see if you love it and want to return the following summer, or move on to a new and different industry instead. The pre-MBA internship is brief, but it’s usually enough to confirm your interest so that you’re not wasting your precious summer internship doing something you’re not passionate about.

Why Should You Do a Pre-MBA Internship?

The obvious reason for pursuing a pre-MBA internship is that it allows you to build skills and gain experience in a new role or industry. It often feels like the recruiting starts as soon as you set foot on campus, so students should arrive on campus with a fairly clear idea of where they want to intern.

It can be challenging to persuade recruiters that you’re serious about the field and to take a chance on you if you have zero experience in their industry and only a few weeks of case studies and lectures to back you up. Having a bit of real-world exposure under your belt makes you that much more competitive and will give you more ammunition when you interview with recruiters for a summer internship.

When Should You Avoid a Pre-MBA Internship?

As I’ve said, most incoming students don’t pursue a pre-MBA internship. You already have a lot going on between sorting out your financial aid, budget and housing as well as finalizing projects at work.

From a purely financial point of view, it’s unlikely you would make as much money in the internship as at your current full-time job, so this might be the time to save your pennies before going to school and facing that steep MBA tuition.

On the other hand, many admitted students have spent the past few years with their nose to the grindstone, with little thought or time for a rejuvenating vacation. The summer before business school could be their last chance for some carefree fun and globe-trotting, and a necessary break to recharge and refill the tank before the intensity of the MBA program hits.

Ultimately, you are already admitted to the program so this is not about gaining favor with the admissions committee. It’s a personal decision about how you want to spend your free time.

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